You could be raising your risk of a ‘lung infection’ every time you shower – pharmacist

Showering: Dermatologist recommends ways to keep skin healthy

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Showering requires turning on the tap, fiddling around with the temperature and then hopping in. Simple enough. However, there is more showering daily than the act itself and failure to appreciate this could compromise your health. One commonly neglected practice that can prove harmful is failing to clean your shower head.

“Many people are very proud of their spotless bathrooms but are completely oblivious to one area that goes without a good clean: the shower head,” explained Hussain Abdeh, Superintendent Pharmacist at Medicine Direct to

According to the pharmacist, shower heads are a “breeding ground” for all kinds of bacteria as they are left wet once you have finished showering.

“Showerheads and other water distributors like taps are ideal places for bacteria to grow.”

According to Mr Abdeh, the majority of bacteria that grows in shower heads will not cause you any harm, but certain types of bacteria can cause “lung infections”.

However, “this risk is very small indeed and it would be very difficult to prove that a respiratory infection was caught from the shower”.

Nonetheless, the pharmacist advised cleaning your shower head with a disinfectant every couple of weeks.

“This is only the same thing you would do with your bathroom tap to prevent limescale and taking this simple and quick precaution can help to decrease bacterial build-up.”

Other common mistakes people make

Mr Abdeh was quick to highlight the harms posed by showering too often.

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“Showering too often can compromise your immune system. While it is important to keep your body clean, showering unnecessarily can be a bad thing.”

According to the pharmacist, your body needs a moderate amount of exposure to dirt and bacteria to strengthen the immune system; this helps to build up a resistance to bacteria that is genuinely harmful and potentially dangerous.

“Over-showering stops the normal exposure of dirt and bacteria, which can make the immune system more sensitive than it needs to be. This can make you more susceptible to illness.”

How often is too often?

Harvard Health says: “While there is no ideal frequency, experts suggest that showering several times per week is plenty for most people.”

Of course, there are exceptions to the rule: if you’re grimy, sweaty, or have other reasons to shower more often.

Nonetheless, Harvard Health advises short showers (lasting three or four minutes) with a focus on the armpits and groin.

The temperature of your shower can also impact your health.

Several studies have suggested that cold water swimming has a wide variety of health benefits, suggesting the same could be true for cold showering.

“When cold water swimming is practiced by experienced people with good health in a regular, graded and adjusted mode, it appears to bring health benefits,” a review into the subject concluded.

According to the review, changes in haematological and endocrine function are some of the benefits observed in research.

Haematology involves the diagnosis and treatment of patients who have disorders of the blood and bone marrow.

The endocrine system is a series of glands that produce and secrete hormones that the body uses for a wide range of functions, such as respiration.

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